January 12, 2018 at 11:35 pm PST | by Troy Masters
Queery: John Erickson

John Erickson is a Ph.D. candidate in American Religious History at Claremont Graduate University and a force in West Hollywood politics and activism. (Photo provided by Erickson)

How is it possible that I just met John Erickson?

I called him up today and the conversation went something like, “I need your help and thought because you are on the WeHo Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board you might have recommendations for someone I should feature in our regular Q&A profile, Queery.”

He instantly rattled off a list of recommendations for what he called “such an honor.” I was struck by the depth of his list and, well, I was sold.

John knew not only the marquis community names (who shall go nameless here) but also people who deserve recognition yet rarely get it.

John Erickson is the man behind a million things you know and love, including the upcoming Women’s March in Downtown LA. “I am on the team, just let us know what you need.” The Resist March. “I worked on Resist March with the whole team and it changed my life.” Hollywood NOW. “I was so touched that Ivy Bottini covets the letter of apology she received from them.”

Wait! “You read the Queery column? “I think I should ask you,” I said.

He finally said yes.

In 2017, Gov. Brown appointed John to the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, the first man so appointed. He serves as the President of the Hollywood Chapter for the National Organization for Women; is on the board of West Hollywood’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory Board; and he serves on the Board of the ACLU of Southern California. He is also Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Stonewall Democratic Club.

He co-founded the digital publication the Engaged Gaze and covers LGBTQ history, feminism, masculinity studies, and American religious history for a variety of publications.

Most recently, John worked for the City of West Hollywood as the Community Events Technician and was City Council Deputy to Councilmember Abbe Land. He also served as the President of the West Hollywood Municipal Employees Union (WEHOME), AFSCME Local 3339, AFL-CIO.

The Los Angeles Blade is proud to call him a friend and an ally.

John Erickson Answers:

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?
I came out when I was 21 and the hardest person  to tell was my maternal grandmother. She died by the time I came out to my mother, father, and sisters. She is the crux of who I am as a person and activist and I just wish I had been able to tell her who I am while she was alive.

Who’s your LGBT hero?
Mayor John Heilman. He’s one of the best people I know and the work he does for LGBT rights across the world inspires me on a daily basis. I’m proud to call him a mentor and a close personal friend.

What’s Los Angeles’ best nightspot, past or present?
I loved going to the French Quarter Marketplace. I have fond memories of hanging out there with friends and just watching the hours fly by because we were having so much fun talking.

Describe your dream wedding.
Anything at the Hotel del Coronado, I go there every year with family and it is beautiful.

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?
Women’s rights (although it goes hand-in-hand with LGBT rights)

What historical outcome would you change?
The election of President Donald Trump

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?
The election of President Barack Obama (cue the debate of pop culture v history)

On what do you insist?
Show up and do the work.

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?
My last Facebook post was a photo from the event “Tea with Alice and Me” that took place on Sunday, January 7, The event was a one-woman show featuring activist Zoe Nicholson, the work of suffragist Alice Paul, the author of the Equal Rights Amendment (which has still yet to be ratified), and how their lives intersect. I have the honor of serving at the President of the Hollywood Chapter for the National Organization for Women (NOW) and we were co-sponsors.

If your life were a book, what would the title be?
Sleep? I relish the memories of when I was in high school and I could sleep all day.

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?
Nothing; I am who I am and I believe that I have no right to tell other people how to live their lives or whom to love (even though sometimes that same respect is not reciprocated).

What do you believe in beyond the physical world?
I live by the golden rule: “do to others what you want them to do to you.” We need more love and kindness in this world and I hope when I look back on my life, I achieved by living this motto to its fullest.

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?
Relish in the victories we have but come back hungry for more because equality for all isn’t achieved overnight. It is a marathon not a sprint.

What would you walk across hot coals for?
My friends. As LGBT people, we do not always get to pick our families. However, we do get to choose our friends and I have some of the best.

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?
That LGBT people are bad at sports. I am proud to be an All-American and National Champion in Men’s Volleyball.

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?
Angels in America

What’s the most overrated social custom?
Meetings! There are too many meetings these days and not enough work getting done.

What trophy or prize do you most covet?
My maternal grandmother’s briefcase; she carried it everywhere with her.

What do you wish you’d known at 18?
Trust your gut.

Why Los Angeles?
Graduate School. I left everything and everyone I knew back home in Wisconsin where I am from and started fresh. It was the most difficult, but ultimately the best decision, I ever made.

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